Welcome to the Emirates Woman weekly series ‘How I got my job as…’ where we speak to some incredible entrepreneurs and businesswomen both based in the UAE and globally to find out about their career paths that led them to where they are now; what their daily routines look like; the advice they’d give to those starting out; and the hurdles they’ve had to overcome.

This week we chat with Kirsty Campbell, founder of That Dubai Girl (TDG), a concept that first started as a Facebook group two years ago and has now turned into a thriving community and brand that is well-known across the emirate and UAE.

Emirates Woman sat down with Campbell to discuss the ins and outs of the concept, the growth of TDG and what’s next for the platform.

What was your favourite subject at school?

Probably Art, anything involving making a mess and being creative, something that has definitely transpired into my day-to-day life.

What was your first job?

Does a paper round count? It is a running joke that I would do anything to earn a few quid as a kid, I would do the weekly food shop with my dad purely to keep the pound from the trolley at the end of it, hustling was in my nature from a young age.

What brought you to Dubai?

Truthfully my sister inspired me to make a change, she left home at 19 whilst I got my Psychology degree and then trained to be a teacher. She travelled the world for three years and came back to our sleepy hometown life and it inspired me to make a change. The UAE became my destination of choice as I had a childhood friend living over here and that gave me a bit of a security blanket! With the promise of all-year-round sunshine and weekends by the pool at the age of 24, it didn’t take much convincing for me to pack my suitcase and move halfway across the world. Nearly eight years later, it is my home from home, I won’t be leaving anytime soon.

That Dubai Girl (1)

What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?

I have always wanted to work for myself, I’ve never been very good at following the rules! I am extremely headstrong and if I believe in something I always follow it through. You have to think outside the box to make a change and sometimes people can only see something progressing from A to Z. They don’t understand that to get to the desired outcome, often you have to go back to your starting point multiple times, making adjustments and improvements to get it right.

Can you talk us through the concept & growth of That Dubai Girl?

That Dubai Girl (TDG) began as a Facebook group with the founding principals being that it was an inclusive, safe space for women living in Dubai to be able to seek advice, share ideas, recommendations and discuss current topics. TDG has become this incredible community of women coming together and supporting each. Over the past two years, it has developed from not only being an online community but to face-to-face meet-ups including business and social networking events. We are proud that our community has helped so many to form strong business relationships and friendships. Last year, Urban Market Concept was born, which showcases home-grown brands alongside thrift and vintage fashion. Each month we create the market with local talent including DJs, dancers and artists. I wanted to create a market with a difference that has it all and appeals to all ages and interests.

Our biggest event management role to date was Dubai Horse Racing Season 2021-2022, a seven-month project for Dubai Racing Club. We were responsible for supplying all the food and beverage outlets, coordinating twenty build-up events, selecting the sponsors for Style Stakes and building the whole activation from design to completion, the Dubai World Cup and the post-race concert. Truly the most monumental part of this was watching months of work come together to be concluded with the Dubai World Cup at the end of March. The most nerve-racking part was booking incredible international artists, how do you know who to choose?! I remember how the technical crew kept laughing at us because we were so excited when the stage was built when the sound and lights were turned on. The hardest but most rewarding challenge to date.

How have you found TDG has helped women in the UAE?

TDG really is an “all walks of life” community, the foundation is that you live in Dubai and can follow the “if you have nothing nice to say, keep it to yourself” rule. Every day we see women come together to help and support one another and we are extremely proud of the safe space we have created for women to seek advice and share experiences. When you’re living away from home life can be tough, personally, I have made some of my closest friendships from TDG. People send us messages or even approach us out in Dubai to tell us how we have helped them find friends, solve a problem, find a new career or take a leap into something new. This never gets old and is a constant reminder of why we started the group. Last year we started a TDG podcast where we anonymously discuss the most common post topics of the week from the group and get advice from experts on a huge range of topics. We also seek out a male perspective on some topics and have a lot of fun silly chat!

What are the key elements of your role?

Chief plate spinner! That Dubai Girl has somewhat taken over my life, I am involved in every aspect of the business which can be hugely overwhelming at times. One of my biggest challenges has been learning to delegate and trust other people with my baby! As the founder of the company I have ultimately got to represent it at all times, people cannot help but associate it with me, as much as my team is five of us. Building relationships and showcasing what we do is probably the biggest part of my role, showing people that we are a lot more than a girl gang. Talking is my specialist skill and one I revel in utilising.

Talk us through your daily routine.

Honestly, no day is ever the same. One day I’m creating a reel for social media content, the next I am orchestrating a live concert for thousands of people. Sometimes I’m visiting up to ten different locations in a day, back-to-back meetings on a huge range of topics and projects. I don’t know how I stay sane although some might say I never was to begin with! Right now our biggest focuses fall under the categories of tailoring, drone technology and golf – what a combination! I thrive off the excitement of what will happen next. I am so lucky to have such an incredible core team to manage all the administration and steps around putting an event, article or project together. I couldn’t do it without them.


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What advice do you have for anyone looking to follow in the same footsteps?

I would encourage anyone to take the risk or start a business if it is a product or concept that they 100% believe in. If you love something, you are driven to do it, even during tough times. Working for yourself can be the most rewarding experience but also the most heartbreaking challenge at times. When you are passionate about your work, you can overcome anything that comes your way during the journey.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received?

You can do anything but not everything, my mum said this to me and it has stuck with me ever since, it helps to keep me focused after a difficult day.

And what is the worst?

Don’t quit your day job! I started That Dubai Girl and Urban Market Concept whilst having a full-time job as a teacher, I had a very comfortable life with a solid income. As TDG began to grow and develop, I had a number of people telling me not to quit my day job, “It’s too risky” and “What if it doesn’t work?”. People will always have an opinion, they will doubt you or make you doubt yourself. You have to be true to yourself, know what you want and go after it. I am not telling people to quit their job without a plan, have some financial backing, make sure their bills can be covered and then go for it. The worst that can happen is you’ll fail and get another job? Or you could be doing something you love and are passionate about every day, worth the risk in my eyes.

What has been the biggest challenge you had to overcome?

Honestly, some days getting up and being motivated to keep going can be a challenge. Sometimes I have so many things floating around in my head I don’t know where to start. Through the highs and lows, the most important thing is surrounding yourself with a solid group of people to help you. My favourite quote is from Misty Copeland “anything is possible when you have the right people there to support you” plus a good list, I love a list!

What are the future plans for your brand?

As we confidently jump into our third year of operations we have launched That Dubai Agency. Our focus is on creating bespoke services including PR, marketing and events for other brands. We have also been able to connect with so many different companies that we already work with which is so rewarding to see. We now have this new opportunity to work with so many different industries in Dubai and I am very excited to see what the future holds for this new chapter. We are partnering with so many incredible events we can’t wait to see them unfold. We have achieved more than I could have possibly imagined in the past two years so we would like to think we are one to watch, world domination can’t be that hard, right?

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